30 places to take your mad family in Majorca

30 places to take your mad family in Majorca

Tapas bars, beautiful stone churches, tiny villages spread over green hills, and long sandy beaches – Majorca is a fab island for big family holidays.

Palma de Majorca

Palma cathedral
Posing in front of Catedral de Majorca. Credit: Laura Colyer (née Whitehead)

Palma is the capital city of the Spanish island of Majorca, dominated by the honey-coloured stone of Santa María cathedral, which towers over the Badia de Palma (bay of Palma). Next to the cathedral sits the Moorish-style Arab fortress, Almudaina, which is now a royal residence. The city itself is perfect for wandering around in the Majorcan sun, ducking into shops and exploring cobbled alleyways. In the four years we’ve visited we’ve never entered Palma with any particular purpose other than to observe the locals and sample the local tapas.

Caution: The stone steps around Palma have been polished smooth by millions of passing feet – I experienced this personally in the famous flip flop incident of 2015. Tread carefully!

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Left: My mum and dad outside the Almudaina fortress. Right: The steps of doom.

Catedral de Majorca

Catedral de Mallorca
The Cathedral towers impressively over the Parc de la Mar.

This massive Gothic structure is the most striking feature of Palma, arguably of the whole of Majorca. The building itself seems to be almost impossibly tall, built in the 13th century on ground raised above sea level. With the water spread out in front of it, the cathedral stands tall and unchallenged at the forefront of the city.

Heads up, to enter the cathedral you need to be dressed modestly. This means your legs and shoulders must be covered, and hats removed.

l’ambigú bar

We stumbled upon this restaurant bar in the square behind Parròquia de Santa Eulàlia when we were hungry for tapas, and ended up enjoying some delicious afternoon cocktails along with it.

l'ambigú bar tapas
Delicious tapas for lunch in l’ambigú bar, Palma.

Ca’s Caparrut

This laid back cafe nestles amongst the trees along Carrer del Palau Reial, lucky for us we found it right as our (and by “our” I mean “my dad’s”) stomachs were beginning to growl. Ca’s Caparrut is a great place to take a break from the sun and enjoy some paella.

Ca's Caparrut
Hannah, dad and mum waiting to be served at Ca’s Caparrut.

Sóller

This beautiful town is cradled in a valley with mountains on every horizon. With such stunning scenery the most appropriate past time can only be relaxing outside a cafe in Plaça Constitucio in the centre of Sóller, watching tourists go by and admiring the intricate facade of Església de Sant Bartomeu.

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The Església de Sant Bartomeu, Sóller.
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Left: Strolling along the streets of Sóller. Right: Taking a break in Plaça Constitucio.

Port de Sóller

“Port de Sóller was magical. The tram ride through the orange groves was dreamy! One might say it was extramely tramandous.”

Tom Whitehead
Port de Soller
The tram travels along the pedestrianised seafront to the marina at the north end.

The Tranvía de Sóller departs from Plaça d’Espanya, taking a winding route past gardens and houses before arriving right at the beachfront of Port de Sóller. The tram itself is nothing short of historic, serving the town since its construction in 1913, and one of only two first generation tramways in the whole of Spain. Riding the tram turned out to be a welcome relief from the hot sun, allowing you to sit back in the rickety old wooden seats and admire the orange groves and farms as they trundle by.

Port de Sóller tram main
The line is 4.868 km long, connecting the main town to the coastal village.

Port de Sóller is a pretty coastal village, with a strip of land shielding the beach from the sea, making the tide quiet and peaceful. Full disclosure, we didn’t spend loads of time here, so the tram was basically our main activity.

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Boats in harbour in Port de Sóller.

Valldemossa

Another small village scattered over forested hills of oak and almond trees, Valldemossa is famous for its beauty as inspiration for many creative people throughout history.

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Skipping through the cobbled streets of Valldemossa. Credit: Hannah Whitehead

Amongst its famous past inhabitants are philosopher Ramon Llull, composer Frédéric Chopin, writer George Sand, poet Rubén Darío, author Jorge Luis Borges, and composer Joseph Horovitz. It’s also the birthplace of Catalina Thomas, Mallorca’s patron saint.

Deià

This small village has that unique Majorcan property of being both coastal and mountainous at the same time. It’s only 16km north of Valldemossa and has a similar creative history, with a stunning landscape of olive and orange groves, teetering on steep cliffs down to the Mediterranean.

Deià
The town of Deià sits in the north western hills of Majorca.

La Casa de Robert Graves

The home of English poet, novelist, and scholar Robert Graves is now a museum you can visit, with rooms reconstructed to how he and his wife Laura Riding would have lived, and areas cleared to host manuscripts and historical artefacts, including the Seizin Press they set up together.

La Casa de Robert Graves
Laura and Tom enjoying Robert’s garden. Credit: Gabbi Whitehead
Deia La Casa de Robert Graves
Me and Rosie standing by some old timey machinery. Credit: Gabbi Whitehead

Graves returned to Majorca after the First World War and lived in Deià until his death in 1985. The town features in many of his stories, none of which I have read, but boy does he have a nice garden.

Parroquia San Juan Bautista

“I was a big fan of the walk from Robert Graves house to Deià and then up to the church. The view out to sea was beaut.”

Tom Whitehead
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Left: Climbing the steep streets of Deià. Right: Matt and Tom posing behind the church gates.

From almost everywhere in Deià you can see the church perched on top of the hill. Climb the steep Carrer Es Puig lined by cypress trees and you’ll come to the beautiful stone building of the Parroquia San Juan Bautista sitting in front of the town cemetery, the resting place of Robert Graves. His grave, like many of the others, is surprisingly simple, with his name written by hand in concrete.

Deia, Majorca
Admiring the view from the Cementerio municipal de Deià. Credit: Pam Whitehead

The centuries old cemetery looks out over the village of Deià with its the stone houses sprinkled over rolling hills, and out to sea, and is still used by local families to this day.

Sa Fonda

Sa Fonda is a favourite of Virgin Record mogul and local Richard Branson, who has a luxury residence in the town and often brings the stars of his label to the bar.

Deia Sa Fonda
Thirsty for some cold drinks after trekking up and down the hills of Deià. Credit: Gabbi Whitehead

The outdoor seating area sits high above the road, with overhead creepers shading you from the afternoon sun.

Puigpunyent

“The street market and festival in Puigpunyent has amazing mojitos and fresh local delicacies, with evening entertainment by stoned hippies.”

Tom Colyer

Home to one of our host villas, Puigpunyent is the Whitehead base in Majorca. The little village is a 15 minute drive from Palma, and nestles in a valley lush with olive and orange groves, neatly planted vineyards, and framed by the Tramuntana mountains. Its location makes it a favourite for cyclists, and the cafes and restaurants are often packed with brightly coloured lycra-clad bodies.

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Enjoying fresh frozen lemonade from the Puigpunyent market.

The town square and streets around it play host to many fairs, markets and festivals throughout the year, with stalls selling locally made trinkets and delicious food during the day, and live music at night.

Puigpunyent
Cinco mojitos por favor! Credit: Gabbi Whitehead

The Rose

“Nice steak, good outside area for family gatherings, excellent service.”

Ian Whitehead
The Rose
The Whitehead invasion of the Rose terrace. Credit: Gabbi Whitehead

The Rose is our favourite restaurant on the island, serving possibly the best steak you’ll find this side of Argentina. We’ve visited three years in a row and it’s been a highlight of the holiday each time.

Ca Sa Nina

Perfect for lunch or dinner, Ca Sa Nina sets you up with delicious tapas, cold drinks and a sunny terrace to enjoy them on.

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Tucking into tapas at Ca sa Nina for Tom’s birthday. Credit: Gabbi Whitehead
tapas - meat
Palma ham with olives, and bread drizzled with oil and tomato juice. Credit: Gabbi Whitehead
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A platter of delicious Spanish cheeses. Credit: Gabbi Whitehead
Padron Peppers
Last but not least, charred and salted padrón peppers. Credit: Gabbi Whitehead

Make sure you don’t leave Majorca without trying pementos de Padrón – small green peppers cooked in oil until the skin crackles and blisters, and generously sprinkled with salt. Supposedly one in ten of these delicious morsels are wildly hot, but every one I’ve tried have been as mild as a bell pepper. My sister Rosie lived in Galicia for a year – the birthplace of this snack – and she has never eaten a hot padrón pepper, or met anyone who has. I suspect it’s a clever trick to stop the British from enjoying them.

Gran Hotel Son Net

“A very nice hotel, perfect for soaking up the remaining sun of the day with some awesome G&T’s.” 

Tom Colyer
Gran Hotel Son Net
The view from Gran Hotel Son Net over Puigpunyent, Majorca. Credit: Hannah Whitehead

The Gran Hotel Son Net is arguably the crowning jewel of Puigpunyent. Converted from a 17th century mansion, this fancy (there’s no getting around the fact that it is very fancy) hotel looks out over the surrounding village and mountains. Grab a seat on the extensive patio, enjoy a cocktail or glass of prosecco, gaze out over the infinity pool and treat yourself to a cheeky eavesdrop on the posh guests around you.

Gran Hotel Son Net
Gabbi, Rosie and Hannah dressed up for evening drinks. Credit: Hannah Whitehead
Gran Hotel Son Net tree house
Me, Matt and Laura with the parents in the background. Credit: Hannah Whitehead

The perfectly preened gardens around the hotel include a large treehouse, which you can hire out for private dinner parties, if you fancy dropping €200 per person.

Gran Hotel Son Net
Left: Me and Rosie sipping at some prosecco. Right: The Gran Hotel Son Net treehouse.
Gran Hotel Son Net
Mum, Matt, myself, dad and Rosie in the mandatory family photo. Credit: Pam Whitehead

Galilea

370m above sea level, the little village of Galilea balances amongst the hills, attracting tourists for the incredible views over the surrounding landscape. If you want to make a day of it, you can climb along a hiking trail from Puigpunyent, or you can enjoy your holiday like a rational human and just drive.

Mirador Galilea

This is the main tourist attraction of the small village – a vantage point in front of the church that on a good day lets you see all the way out to the Mediterranean.

Galilea
Matt, me, Rosie, mum and dad being photographed by a German whilst he talks about Brexit.

Cafe Sa Plaça De Galilea

Enjoy the view from Galilea more comfortably from the tiny terrace of this little cafe, with coffee to sip and traditional Spanish pastries to nibble on as you gaze over the rolling green hills.

Cafe Sa Plaça De Galilea
Mum and dad enjoying the view from Cafe Sa Plaça De Galilea.

Pollença

“Nice square, good views from the nearby hills.”

Ian Whitehead
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Left: A pretty house front, typical to Majorca. Right: Olives at the market. Credit: Laura Colyer

The narrow streets of Pollença, a legacy from the medieval days of the town’s history, are dominated by a large 13th century church and the 365-step stairway that leads to it from the main square. The town has a massive parade every year on Good Friday that reenacts the stations of the cross including a mock crucifixion. Afterwards hundreds of people in cloaks and masks parade the body of Christ through the town by candlelight. Standard.

Pollenca cafe
Blending in with the locals. Credit: Laura Colyer

Fun fact: Pollença was founded by the Catalans in the 13th century, 4 miles from the coast in an effort to avoid pirate attacks.

Carrer del Calvari

As previously mentioned, if you want to enjoy the splendid views from the highest point of Pollença, you’d better be ready to climb. Don’t rush though, the houses and streets lining the stairway make the journey as picturesque as the destination.

Carrer del Calvari
The view over Pollença from the top of the Carrer del Calvari.

Eglésia del Calvari

This little church is almost endearingly small compared to the climb to get to it. But don’t be disappointed, the main attraction is just around the corner…

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Climbing the Carrer del Calvari to the Eglésia del Calvari. Credit: Hannah Whitehead

Carrer Sense nom

At the top of the Carrer del Calvari stairs, turn right at the church and follow the Carrer Sense nom to the left to find this incredible lookout point across the green landscape and nearby villages.

Pollenca El Calvario
Admiring the countryside around Pollença. Credit: Pam Whitehead
View from Pollenca
The view from Carrer Sense nom.

Restaurante Brasserie Número Ocho

The Brasserie Número Ocho is ideally situated right in the main square of Pollença. Highlights include the wide range of cocktails, the fab service and the truly delicious food.

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Enjoying cocktails at Restaurante Brasserie Número Ocho, Pollença. Credit: Laura Colyer

Santuari de la Mare de Déu del Puig

Also known as the Puig de Maria, this 2.2km long trail takes you up to the 330m high summit looking out over Pollença.

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Feeling like we’ve earned our lunch.

The trail itself is well shaded so the hour long climb is not too taxing, and once you get to the top you can explore the 14th century chapel and monastery, and reward yourself with a cold drink from the cafe.

Santuari de la Mare de Déu del Puig
The Santuari de la Mare de Déu del Puig trail. Credit: Hannah Whitehead

the best Majorcan beaches

Playa de Santanyí

This beautiful beach is nestled in a quiet cove on the south side of the island, but to make the most of it you need to be prepared! There are no shady spots, toilets or convenient places to eat or grab drinks. This means you need to bring parasols, cool boxes of water bottles and packed lunches.

Playa de Santanyí
The Playa de Santanyí in Majorca is a popular spot for locals as well as tourists. Credit: Gabbi Whitehead

A walkway hugs the rocks on the right side of the cove, leading you around the headland to explore hidden caves and admire sweeping views of the Mediterranean. Great if you’ve got some restless boys in your group.

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Tom is having a great time exploring caves. Credit: Gabbi Whitehead

Playa de Es Trench (Platja Des Trenc)

“This long beach is perfect to spread out, play games, swim in the blue seas and build shelters.”

Tom Colyer

A wide sweeping expanse of white sand that stretches as far as the eye can see, Playa de Es Trench is the favourite Whitehead beach in Majorca. Park along the road to Ses Covetes, carry all your gear along Carrer Covetes, and pick your spot depending on how busy it is and how far you want to walk. Our holidays have always been relatively off season, between April and May, and we’ve never had to fight for space on this massive beach.

Es Trenc
It’s the perfect place to relax, play some ball games and swim about in the waves. Credit: Laura Colyer
Platja Des Trenc 2
Make sure you bring your own source of shade! Credit: Laura Colyer

If you need a break from the sun, stroll back along to Bar Esperanza for a cold drink or even for lunch. This cool bar restaurant has been refurbished in the last couple of years, and the modern decor and trendy drinks make it a really pleasant place to chill out and play some cards.

playa es trenc
Totally candid. Doesn’t your family do this at the beach?

Playa Sant Elm (Platja de Sant Elm)

Advertised as the largest sandy beach in south west Majorca, Playa Sant Elm is actually only 130m long. This is because of the terrain of this coast which is mostly rocky. Make sure you get there early, good spots on the sand are in short supply.

The main benefit of Sant Elm beach is that it has more to offer than just the beach. I personally get bored of sand after a few hours, so Matt and I wandered around the village, bought some cold drinks, climbed the rocks and watched passing boats.

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Finding a spot on the beach can be a challenge. Credit: Hannah Whitehead

You can also hire canoes and take them out to La Illa Pantaleu – the small island just in view on the left.

Playa St Vincenc

Sant Vincenc actually has four beaches to choose from, with Cala Barques being the biggest, decked out with lifeguard service and snack bar (food and drink availability is a Whitehead priority).

St Vincenc
Parasols and loungers are available to hire during peak seasons.
St Vincenc beach
Dad, Laura, myself, Hannah and Rosie, ready to claim our spot on the sand.

Playa de Formentor

“A windy road with the best views over the cliff, that then follows down to a beautiful secluded beach!” ~ Hannah Whitehead

A remote beach with dramatic rocks and evergreen trees, Playa de Formentor is a long stretch of white sand along the Cap Formentor. It makes for a great cycle destination, apparently (you’ll have to take Rosie’s word for it).

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Tom and Rosie-approved. Credit: Hannah Whitehead

Port de Pollença

The Port de Pollença has a wide sandy beach curving all the way round Pollença Bay. Rock up for the day to relax on the sand, or go for a walk along the front to watch the boats and explore the shops and restaurants.

Port de Pollenca Rosie
Laura and Rosie chilling out.
Port de Pollenca mum
Mum sticking firmly to her established shady spot.
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Enjoying ice cream along the Carrer del Pescador. Credit: Laura Colyer

Verdict

The Whiteheads love Majorca, which you can clearly see from the fact that we’ve returned four years running. If you’re a big group, all you need is a few cars to give people the option to go off and explore all the little towns or relax by the beach. Plus it has good golf courses, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

Where did we go next?

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Sophie Whitehead

I’m Sophie, a writer and blogger living in London, traveling, eating, and telling you all about it.

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1 Comment

  1. June 24, 2018 / 6:47 am

    Such an interesting list! Deffo will give it a try.

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